Marriage Formation and Economic Opportunity in the United States: 1970-2000

Catherine A. Fitch, University of Minnesota
Sheela Kennedy, University of Minnesota
J. Michael Oakes, University of Minnesota
Steven Ruggles, University of Minnesota

This paper will present results from a project to assess the impact of changes in male and female economic opportunity on marriage formation in the United States since 1960. Our analysis will capitalize on a vast new archive of restricted-access long-form census data currently in preparation by the Census Bureau. This study will break new ground by analyzing the local economic context of marriage decisions for African Americans, Hispanics, and non-Hispanic whites. In this paper, we will investigate the relationship between economic opportunity and early marriage formation for whites and African Americans from 1970 to 2000. To address these issues, we will carry out multi-level analysis of the effects of changes in local economic conditions on the marriage decisions of young people. The models will also include controls for individual-level characteristics such as age and educational attainment and local characteristics such as partner availability, levels of cohabitation, and welfare generosity.

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Presented in Session 39: Union Formation in Developed Countries